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Summary of Boccaccio's "The Decameron: Day 1, Story 4"

Giovanni Boccaccio's The Decameron quote: "...I am going to tell you briefly, without fear of disapproval, how cleverly a monk saved his body from a most severe punishment."
Storyteller: Dioneo

In a town named Lunigiana, there is a monastery that used to be considered very saintly, and it once was filled with many monks. In the monastery, there lived a young monk, whose fasts and vigils have not been able to affect his virility and youth. One afternoon, when all the monks were sleeping, this young monk decided to take a walk. While on his walk the monk spotted a young girl, who was going through the field and gathering herbs. As soon as this monk saw her he wanted her.

He went up and talked to her. After a while he made his intentions clear and she secretly followed him to his room. The monk let himself get too carried away while he was playing with the girl, and the Abbot, who happened to be passing by, heard the noise. The Abbot went up to the door and discerned that there was a woman in there. He decided to return to his room and wait for the monk to come out.

The monk had heard footsteps outside of his door, and he went to peek through a small opening to see who it was. He clearly saw the Abbot outside of his door listening, and he knew that he had to come up with a plan to save himself from a horrible punishment.
He told the girl to stay in his room while he went off to figure out a way to sneak her out.

He left the room and locked his door behind him, and then he went to see the Abbot, which is customary before leaving the monastery. He told the Abbot that he was unable to carry in all the firewood that had been cut for him, and he asked permission to go out and fetch it. The Abbot did not know that the monk knew he had been observed and so he granted the young monk's request. The Abbot wanted to investigate what kind of sin the monk had made. The monk his keys to the Abbot and then left. The Abbot planned to either open up the monk's door in front of all the other monks, or he was going to talk to the girl first. A thought came to him that she may be the wife or daughter of someone very important, and he did not want to shame her in front of everyone; so he resolved to go speak with her first.

The Abbot went to the monk's room; opened the door and then closed it behind him. When the girl saw the monk she began to cry in shame. The Abbot immediately saw that she was very beautiful, and he succumbed to the same instinctual desires that the young monk had. He began thinking to himself: no one knows she is here so why don't I have some fun. "A sin that's hidden is half forgiven!" the monk said to himself (48). It would be wise to proffer from what God sends.

The Abbot, after comforting the girl, told her what he was after. She let him kiss her and eventually they lay on the monk's bed. The Abbot pulled the girl on top of him; so that he would not crush her, and he amused himself there for a long time.

The monk had stayed in the monastery waiting for the Abbot to go into his bedroom. Once the Abbot had locked himself into the monk's room the monk went and peeped through a hole, listening and watching everything that the Abbot said and did.

When the Abbot had had enough he returned to his room locking the monk's door behind him. After a while he heard the monk come back from the woods, and he decided that it was time to enact punishment on him. He planned to lock him up in prison so that he could continue to enjoy the girl all by himself.

The monk was summoned and sentenced to prison. The monk said to the Abbot that he had not belonged to the Order of Saint Benedict long enough to know all of the rules. He continued by saying that until a moment ago, he had not learned how to support the weight of a woman. He then promised to always behave as the Abbot had.

The Abbot quickly figured out what had happened. He decided to pardon the monk and told him never to reveal what he had seen. They managed to quickly get the girl out of the monastery, but she was often brought back in to satisfy both of their needs.

Sources

Boccaccio, Giovanni. The Decameron. Translated by Mark Musa and Peter Bondanella, Signet Classic, 1982.

Quote in Graphic at the top of the page can be found on page 46.


Published on July 28, 2014 by Sophia Brookshire © All Rights Reserved

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